I shouldn’t laugh, my mum says. “She must know that you’re not pandering to her attention seeking”.
And I must admit, my mum is an expert when it comes to kids. Well, aren’t all mums of the “old school generation”?
Seriously, it’s like every stage of development they describe before your child gets there seems to unravel just as they said.
But I can’t help but end up in stitches (with laughter) when my 16-month-old daughter collapses in a heap and pretends to bang her head on the floor. As she does she pauses and looks up at me; “Is he watching? Good. I’ll continue”. She then proceeds to make an “ouch” sound, holds her head and tries to cry some tears.
She’s such an actress, and it’s adorable.
Of course she does this because she’s trying to get her own way. It might be that I’ve taken away the remote control for the tenth time, or said, “That’s it, you’ve had enough raisins for today; you’ll give yourself wind otherwise!”
Whatever it is, she’ll let me know her disapproval with a grand display of collapsing on the floor dramatically.
The pretending to bang her head stems from a time when she really did hit her head quite hard. A lady left a pram half blocking the walkway of a restaurant, and my daughter escaped my clutch and started to waddle down the aisle, only to trip over the wheel and bang her head on the floor.
Of course, she got a lot of love, hugs and kisses for that episode, and being a new Dad I felt so guilty and responsible, as did my wife.
But amidst the tantrums, there’s been some wonderful learning for me, in that like all children her age, her ability to feel an emotion and let it go without a second thought is so wonderful.
Attention-seeking or not, really hurt or just overtired and overacting, it doesn’t matter. Everything she reacts to she lets go of quickly and moves on to learning something new, be it picking up a new object, spotting a new cat in the street that she wants to stroke, or realising that she has a new skill like being able to take her socks off or comb her hair.
1. No amount of upset in the previous moment holds her back from moving forward and finding her smile again.
2. No bump on the knee or fall on her bottom is too hard to stop her getting up and trying again.
3. No frown in moments of naughtiness is too deep to stop her bouncing back into my arms to rekindle our affection.
Mother Nature drives her on, along with her individual passion and zest for life.
Every day is a new discovery.
Every day is a new lesson.
Every day is another chance to enjoy being alive.
And my word does she live at full throttle.
To witness this has given me new life, another chance to appreciate the small miracles that continue to happen throughout adulthood but are sorely forgotten and pushed aside in our struggle to be everywhere but where we stand.
Sure, kids are tiring, and there are times when you don’t know how you’re still standing, but this is compensated for by a special energy they emit that drives you on and makes you want to be a better person; to be happier, to have more fun, to enjoy the small, everyday blessings in life.
You don’t need your own children to draw on this nature-borne energy either. Next time you see a child playing happily in the park, screaming frantically in a restaurant or hugging his/her mum or dad tenderly on the bus, stop a moment and look into the mirror of that child’s eyes. Say hello and connect with that unspoken wisdom.
Children need our protection and guidance, but a good teacher never stops learning from his students.